KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Tarmac-tackling super adventure bike
  • Torquey V-twin motor
  • Agile, confident handling

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £250
Power: 160 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.9 in / 860 mm)
Weight: Medium (474 lbs / 215 kg)

Prices

New £14,299
Used £9,500 - £13,200

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the direct replacement for the 1190 Adventure, and comes with everything the R boasts, but skewed firmly towards tarmac riding, rather than being genuinely dual-purpose.

The biggest and most obvious change, beside the lack of orange frame and crash bars, is the use of 19in front and 17in rear cast wheels in place of the larger laced items on the R. They are then complimented by shorter travel suspension to lower the centre of gravity – and seat height (from 890mm on the R to an adjustable 860/875 on the S).

That suspension is WP semi-active front and rear, allowing riders to select the best option for their load and conditions, from Comfort, Street, Sport and Off-road via the control menu – even on the go.

The S gets all the same electronic assistance for the rider, too – including Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), multi-mode and lean-angle sensitive combined ABS. Just like the R, you can monitor all those systems via the all-new 6.5in full-colour TFT dash.

The S model comes on Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tyres as standard fitment in 120/70 R 19 and 170/60 R 17 tyre sizes.

Once you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may want to join an owners' community like this one on Facebook.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The semi-active WP suspension has four settings – Comfort, Street, Sport and Off-road – which reacts according to your chosen riding mode, and can be swapped on the fly. The new S is sportier than the old Super Adventure.

The steering is light for such a big bike, which encourages you to really throw it around with relative ease. When the semi-active suspension is working overtime the 1290 remains composed, stable and boosts confidence. 

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The 1301cc V-Twin is now Euro 4 compatible and KTM have cleaned up the motor with a new exhaust, new cylinder head, including valves and cams, plus changes to the fuelling. Even though the engine is cleaner and quieter than before KTM say the power and torque figures remain the same as the old model, 160bhp and 103.25ftlb of torque. It makes 79.6ftlb of torque at just 2,500rpm!

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

KTM’s reliablity and quality is improving and the 160bhp is near proven in other models such as the 1290 GT and Super Duke. 

We've got 7 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4.4 stars out of 5. Reliability has been a problem for some. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The base price of £14,299 means it's cheaper than the competiton and for that you get a decent level of specification. However, the bike we tested would cost £16,777, which isn't too bad and puts it much closer to the competition.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The KTM 1290 comes with an impressive spec sheet. Four rider modes, cornering ABS and lean senstive traction control, all controlled by the fancy new colour dash. Other neat touches include LED cornering headlight, keyless ingnition, cruise control, illuminated switchgear, self-locking manual screen and even a waterproof phone storage compartment complete with USB input. Heated grips are an optional exta.

Specs

Engine size 1301cc
Engine type Liquid cooled, V-Twin, chain drive, six gear
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 23 litres
Seat height 860mm
Bike weight 215kg
Front suspension Semi actice WP 48mm forks
Rear suspension WP single rear shock, semi active
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston radial calipers, cornering ABS
Rear brake 267mm disc, twin piston caliper, ABS
Front tyre size 120/70x19
Rear tyre size 170/60x17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £250
New price £14,299
Used price £9,500 - £13,200
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 160 bhp
Max torque 103 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 250 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2017: Model introduced

Other versions

Other KTM 1290 Super Adventure reviews on MCN

MCN Long term test reports

MCN Fleet: KTM 1290 Adventure S – Arrival imminent!

MCN Fleet: KTM 1290 Adventure S – Arrival imminent!

To say I’m excited about the impending arrival of my longterm KTM 1290 Adventure S is an understatement. Having got up close and personal with the model at the MCN London show in February, I was seriously impressed with the look feel and the plethora of features it boasts. I’m not an overly big fan

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - on)

11 owners have reviewed their KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S (2017 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Equipment: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £250
4 out of 5
11 October 2020 by Badry

Year: 2019

Strange things that took me a while wondering about and trying to understand this bike: - The Adv bike with the largest engine displacement in the market is lighter than 90% of 1000cc naked bikes! - 1300cc Vtwin with that high compression, hp and torque .., and not vibrating like a big bore V twin. - Chain drive on a big adv - It's an Adv but not blended form offroad / touring like most in the market, it's more of a Hyper Naked / off-road / "some" touring blend Riding experience: - Power and maneuvers is the first comment form everyone who tested it so far, Powerful response and sharp maneuvers that feels like a good 1000cc street bikes - Popping off the font wheel and pushing the traction control beyond its limits and having the rear wheel spin is very normal, you have to take it very easy on throttle, btw this happens also at higher gears and speeds- At low speeds power delivery is very smooth and not cranky at all (expect on sport mode needs you to be a bit sensitive on throttle)- Idle RPM is high ~1500 needs some time to a adapt then its a not issue- Always asking for a lower gear, you can't pass a speed bump at none adv speed bump speed :) on 2nd gear you must shift down to 1st, - 5th and 6th are not the gears to cruise less than or equals 100Kph, 4th is the 100kph cruising  gear in this KTM- Braking performance, KTM was pragmatic enough  to handed over the braking system to Brembo- Neutral is not easy to catch. You have to be sensitive or have good gear box mechanical experience :)- Vibration is very minimum till 6 rpm then you start to feel it a bit, but it depends on your perspective, compared with Japanese cruisers, Ducati, off-road bikes it has no vibration, compared to Japanese 4 inline or parallel twin it has a bit vibration feeling- Suspensions for a person like me, semi adaptive electronic suspension feels like a spaceship, - Damp settings Sport, Street, comfort, Off-road do exactly like it's name- Setting Damp, preload, abs, riding mode on the fly is real +- Fuel weight well distributed and at low hight-  When you want to get the hell out of the 160hp it burns fuel like street bikes, other than that  consumption is good for travel and commuting- Heat: it's like eu cars it heats till 90-100 degrees and keeps like that all the time, 100% not as hot as described on forums especially if you are used to hot weather or 1000+ street bikes. while commuting in sunlight 38 degrees, you feel "some heat" from the seat but I would say a very normal heat, no concentrated heat at you legs and feet at all, so it's a normal big bore heat however in concourse I've experienced all lot more and was having a much bigger complain   - Wheelbase is a bit short compared to ADV bikes, its makes it jump higher and easier maneuvers also easy to spin the rear wheel this must be taken in account while cornering- Highway riding: street bike acceleration and braking performance all the way, - Handling response gets harder after 200kph, not convenient after 220, more of a boat traction (probably because height and weight) also it's not the use case for an adv bike - Accelerates faster than the suspension semi adaptive, if you reach 200+ very quickly you'll need to wait couple of seconds till the suspension adapts - also the front wheel always lifts up when accelerating on any speed so you lose a bit of a traction in the front wheel during sudden acceleration, if you're well connected with the bike and have the right experience it's just a muscle memory - don't think 250+ Kph is an option as advertised unless you are in a straight tunnel alone:) over 200 the risk strats and over 220 it's totally out of its comfort zone, not sure but I think it's locked at 23x kph.it maneuvers and corners very sharp but your head is very high, you need to change your body position if you're going extreme.TFT is very nice but as usual KTM fonts are too small, Mobile connectivity is good for caller id and media playing also controlled form the handle bar is nice, puting google maps on the TFT was supposed to be there, ktm navigation app is useless. so the company that handed over the braking to brembo are trying to compete with Google in SW :DHandlebar switches, finally! they light at night :) Also you control everything with 4 bottoms very easily and conveniently once you get used to it.   Although the user manual rejects to adjust the windscreen on while riding, it's really very easy to do, but don't tell anyoneother than the Adv and travel capabilities, it's a good bike to commute in case your commute mixes city with highway, also for egyptial silky smooth roadsTop case and a tank bag should be the maximum luggage settings (a duffle on the pylon for long trips) side cases will kill it, you will lose the benefit of having a very fit / slim bike, also weight on the front wheel is already low, side cases + rack will make it lose more traction easily.Negative things that must change / upgrade (at least for me): - Seat is very hard after 45mins, but KTM ergo seat solved the issue for 200$ - Bar height needs to raise to the maximum of the cables (SW motech solved it) - Windscreen is a failure from KTM :) no protection and zero optical correction in case somebody is short enough to see through -Foot pegs at the lowest settings are still high for a 185cm+ person (solved by the 20mm height I got form the ergo seat), however compared to something like super tenere there are still room for dropping it lower.A very good adv for road / trails, R version will nail it in extreme off roadFeels well built, and holding itself togetherDon't get it if: - You have overweight to obese body - if you are planning to have 3 hardcases and a passenger all time - if you are shorter than 170 cm (unless you're an expert rider) - if you didn't ride a fast bike before (sports, sport touring, hyper naked...) you need to be used to such a response before combining it with Height. - if you have soft hands :P and consider the chain maintenance a pain in the ass. - if the 160hp is your only attraction go get a street bike, it's a powerful adv with a powerful street capabilities, so you have to see it a and ADV not streetOther experience - Stock exhaust is already loud and sounds good, improvement should be for different tone or lighter weight but not a louder volume - Tool box and user manual are targeting riders who work with their own hands -  Oil change parts are more expensive around 50$ - needs a very special oil 10w-50 but not necessary Motorex - aftermarket parts are much cheaper than japanese bikes - very easy to move around in parking (like a naked bike)

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 Tangotastic!
10 October 2020 by Suggs

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £150

Best = Torquey engine, dash & ride. Enough said!

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

It's as happy on Twisties as it is on the open road. Yet to introduce it to the dirty side of it's character but I have no doubt it'll perform. Comfortable for several hours in the saddle.

Engine 5 out of 5

Awesome, just awesome.....

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Solid as an orange rock!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Economical for a beast.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The dash & controls are excellent. It sounds even better with the Akra fitted. Benefits from an after market clip on wind deflector on top of the screen.

Buying experience: Brand new purchase on the "let's trade keys" deal so got £1290 worth of accessories.

5 out of 5 Astonishingly good
31 August 2020 by Cam

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £300

Astonishingly Good

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Soooooo comfy to ride. I commute, tour and play on it and it is comfy for everything. It is very tall though. Be careful. The suspension is the best I have ever experienced. I was sceptical of semi active and cornering ABS etc but I have to say it is a revelation. Just fantastic.

Engine 5 out of 5

Loads and loads of power but it is the smooth way it is delivered and the faultless fuelling which make this really special. I run it in Sports mode most of the time and even then it is smooth , well behaved and easy to use. I probably don't need to use Sports mode but the induction roar and instant hit of power are addictive.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Had electrical problems, the screen and starter. It seems some moisture got in but Laguna fixed it and KTM got the parts to them quickly. I am happy with the service.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

A big heavy adventure bike with 160 bhp. It isn't cheap to run but it is worth every penny. I recommend the Scorpion Trail 2s. Fantastic grip and quite hard wearing. Suit the bike very well.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Everything you could need. I have the heated seat and grips and they work great with the quick selection on the menu. I use KTM My Ride for Navigation. I have heard lots of complaints but once set up mine has been fantastic. It is clear, easy to use and works great.

Buying experience: Got a deal on the bike but the seat, luggage and grips were expensive. Still a great deal for the best bike I have ever owned.

5 out of 5 New 1290 owner
28 July 2020 by Cobby

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £180

Brilliant Engine, very smooth quickshifter. You do get some heat from the right sided of the bike from the rear cylinder. Dash is fantastic

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Great WP suspension

Engine 5 out of 5

Awesome engine and power delivery

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Too early to tell this is a recent purchase

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Great deal saved 2400 off the normal price. Was considering GS 1250 (second hand) but got a brand new 1290 with lots of extras for less than the cost of 2nd hand GS

Equipment 4 out of 5

Heated grips and quickshifter should be standad

Buying experience: Bought from Premier bikes near Oxford, made the buying experience very simple, offered deals on the extras as well.

5 out of 5
17 May 2020 by Simon Heathcote

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £180

Adventure bike that is still fun to ride

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ride quality is incredible. This suspension package is without doubt the best I have ever used, and I have ridden or owned every adventure bike on the matket.

Engine 5 out of 5

This is where the bike really shines, the power is smooth , controllable and ample. As the torque builds , if you wish you can lift the front wheel off small bumps at 80 mph plus, obviously where legal to do so. Or you can set the bike in street mode and cruise along barely touching the throttle, with no complaints from engine or transmission. Oh yes nearly forgot, get the quickshifter installed at your first service , though the clutch is light and the gearbox slick the quickshifter (once you learn how to use it , ie don’t shut throttle and don’t touch clutch!! ) is incredible

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Nothing has failed, fallen off or broken , though make sure you wash road salt off in the winter.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

This bike, though relatively expensive represents great value for money, considering the level of kit supplied, versus certain German competition.

Equipment 4 out of 5

It’s got everything you could imagine and more, the electronic suspension and traction control are literally out of this world, particularly in the wet when you can feel it helping keep you in control, simply amazing, though Ktm should include the “travel pack” with the initial price ( travel pack includes quickshifter, hill hold control and asc)

Buying experience: Kestrel KTM all the way, the team there are brilliant, very helpful and a pleasure to deal with.

3 out of 5 Forget the Ktm 1290s Buy a BMW Gs instead
11 April 2020 by Bygradly

Year: 2017

Bought bike brand new handling was rubbish turned out the steering head bearing was loose ! Engine hunting when engine hot in traffic, making bike difficult to ride (Dealer couldn’t fix problem) , uncomfortable seat. Sold mine after 4 months 4,000miles and bought a BMW GS almost perfect!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Engine hunting when hot , dealer failed to solve problem

Value vs rivals 2 out of 5

Depreciation was massive !

Equipment 3 out of 5

Uncomfortable seat , gel seat fitted no better . Tall screen fitted standard one too low

Buying experience: Bought new sold 4 months 4,000 miles later . Not a good touring bike , uncomfortable seat, Engine hunting when hot at low speeds making bike a pain to ride in traffic

4 out of 5 Touring, commuting, off roading, do everything bike
06 January 2019 by Rsvgaz

Version: 1290 Super Adventure R

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £500

This bike has awesome handling and the engine is something else but I had a few teething problems.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

I use my bike for touring and daily commuting and it does both without an issue. There's plenty of go in the motor for lugging luggage and the chassis handles really well. The brakes feel a little wooden at times.

Engine 5 out of 5

There's nothing to dislike about the engine, it has awesome power everywhere. It is very smooth and cruises at any speed. I regularly get 55mpg without trying.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

The bike has had to have new fork sliders fitted due to failing chrome and I'm waiting to have a new keyless fuel cap fitted as the current one has failed. The fit and finish is light-years ahead of the R1200GS LC Adventure I had previously...... Awful paint quality on the frame and engine on the BMW.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

I love the cruise control and the touring electronics package. The quickshifter is light-years ahead of the gear shift assist pro on the BMW I had. I have Apduro panniers fitted to my bike, which are superb and use a BMW-style quick release system. I can also recommend the KTM Power Parts two-piece heated seats, which are a revelation in both comfort and also the heat is a welcome bonus on winter mornings.

Buying experience: I bought my bike used from CMC Motorcycles, who were brilliant. All work on the bike post sale has been carried out by TripleD KTM at Kendal, who are superb and I can't recommend them enough.

4 out of 5 Powerful, fun, under 200 KMH
10 October 2018 by yaron

Year: 2017

A very powerful engine, great gear, but in high speed not stable.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Fun to ride. Great in the twisties.

Engine 5 out of 5

Power, power, power.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

no big issues

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Not more expensive then my previous bikes.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Got a pretty good deal.

5 out of 5 You gotta have one of these-they are simply astonishing
02 January 2018 by Chris Hart

Year: 2017

The bike lives up to all the marketing hype and then some. Readers will observe that I am a huge fan of the KTM, that said if I was riding two up I would probably take the GS, so some objectivity can be taken from narrative. I mostly ride solo and in this guise the KTM does make every ride an adventure, it's the way it does it which is so exhilarating that did it for me. I am sure others will say the same about a Ducati or Triumph. We are all lucky to have so much current choice of quality bikes.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Perfect in every respect faultless. I don't believe the KTM and GS should be compared, luckily enough I have both and they both are brilliant bikes, they just get from A to B in very different styles. I spend 99.9% of my time on tarmac, but the roads in South East England are so so poor it feels like riding 99.9 % over potholes. But the roads don't bother these types of bikes they just tramp on and on and steer so well at what ever pace is set.

Engine 5 out of 5

Blows everything else away KTM clearly have some very clever chaps at the factory. The rider modes suit every circumstance, rarely use sport mode in the UK. Pointless.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

So far so good done 4000 miles mostly in europe in the alps in September. Too early to tell about reliability. I do tend to do as much servicing and preventative maintainace as i can. I also have a very old BMW GS 1100 for winter use and another BM GSA 1200 last of air cooled models. BMW,s do need looking after as well. I do apply plenty of product products to all my bikes and they all get pampered. So I do my bit to give the bikes he best chance to be reliable

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Haven't had to pay for a big service yet but as with all these high spec bikes you buy knowing what you are letting yourself in for!

Equipment 5 out of 5

I fully loaded my KTM with just about everything but kitchen sink. Heated seats brilliant no idea why Germans don't offer options in GS they are missing a trick. The heated seat design is also so much more comfortable than the standard seat even with no heat! For me what swung the KTM to me and not GS or Ducati Multi Strada or Triumph, I really wanted to love the triumph but the looks didn't do it for me, was KTM equipment the ipad dash which is so clear and informative,the electronic package cornering headlights which really do work, quick shifter up and down the box is flawless and so much fun every where. It very quickly becomes completely intuitive to use and I have ridden many many bikes.

Buying experience: KTM know I will be a misery if I get any real grief that can't be sorted by normal protocols, but I will also be a pussy cat provided the bike does what it is supposed to do. Laguna Motorcycles did me proud and they do know me well. Had a bumpy start with KTM UK about customer service. Enough said move on, I'll give KTM benefit of the doubt for the moment. I didn't think they really understood modern customer service as well as they should at the beginning of the journey. Many many years ago I was in "the trade " front of house so to speak so I know how the whole customer journey should work...

5 out of 5 rejuvenated and very pleased
01 December 2017 by Ouchmed

Year: 2017

Lets place for improvement of the seat height compared to the handlebar. Imho that would make it a 5-star tourer.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

the brakes are top notch. But the engine, that is from another level.

Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth at low revs. And beasty once above 4500rpm

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Compared to others it is no more expensive than Japanese let alone a German or an English.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Full package for a reasonable price considering other brands.

Buying experience: In my country, the KTM dealership team ARE the nicest of them all. Not snobbish as the dealers of my previous bike *coughs in German*.

5 out of 5 1290 S 1000 miles in.!
30 May 2017 by Paddy

Version: 1290 Adv S

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £170

what a bike, what an engine, great suspension. Awesome machine . Standard seat aint so comfy. need the ergo seat.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

ride quality spot on

Engine 5 out of 5

awesome engine, puts a real smile on your face

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Windscreen not very scratch resistant

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

costly. 30 quid more than a GS

Equipment 5 out of 5

love the LCD screen, Gear shifter, suspension.

Buying experience: small network V BMW. But happy to travel as bike so much fun

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